Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey on Flickr

Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey on Flickr

The Koch lessons

“Concern for the common good is buried by the greed, deception, secrecy and cunning of a few very rich people.”

Imagine yourself as a staff writer for the New Yorker. In 2010, you write an in-depth piece, entitled “The Koch Brothers’ Covert Operations.” The article details the efforts of the libertarian Koch brothers to use their vast wealth: 1) to guide the Tea Party movement; 2) to bankroll policies that benefited their industries, weakening environmental controls in the process; and 3) to wage war on President Barack Obama.

Charles and David Koch were enraged by the New Yorker story. David Koch called the story “ludicrous.” A Koch company attorney complained to the magazine, but offered no specifics, so the editors saw no reason to correct anything. They stood by their writer.

End of story? No. The story’s author, Jane Mayer, discovered that at least six Koch operatives had been hired to dig up dirt. According to one of her sources, “If they couldn’t find it, they’d create it.” Rumors reached her about a private investigation firm going after her.

In January 2011, a New York Post reporter contacted Mayer’s editor, telling him there were “allegations” that an article was being written by the conservative Daily Caller, accusing Mayer of plagiarism in many of her stories.

Mayer acted quickly. Any accusations of plagiarism would ruin both her reputation and her career. She contacted the journalists whose writings she had supposedly lifted without giving credit to the authors. All four writers wrote letters saying the allegations of plagiarism were patently untrue. She sent the letters to the author of The Caller article, and the piece was killed.

Later, an unnamed source told Mayer, “They thought they had you.” Koch attorneys later tried to keep her article from being nominated for an award with the American Society of Magazine Editors. They failed.

Attorneys for Koch Industries refused to either confirm or deny the attempted smear when Mayer contacted them. They refused to talk with her. Largely because of this, Mayer began to write the well-researched and well-documented book entitled, “Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right.” It took her five years to finish it and get it published.

The thesis of the book is that the Koch brothers and their allies have spent hundreds of millions of dollars beginning in 1980 to gain control of the U.S. government through the election process. Their methods were lies, deception and secrecy. They created think tanks, financed academic programs and controlled news media outlets, “that far exceeded anything the liberal opposition could put together,” according to a New York Times book review in January 2016 by Alan Ehrenhaltjan.

According to Mayer, much of the political polarization we see in this nation has come as a result of what Hilary Clinton labeled “the vast right wing conspiracy.”

Mayer’s book provides hundreds of facts, court cases, Environmental Protection Agency rulings and fines levied on Koch Industries, and eyewitness accounts. The evidence is very convincing.

While I was reading the book, I recognized that Mayer’s account had a very progressive bias. That doesn’t negate the facts she presents. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously quoted, “Everyone has a right to their own opinion, but not to his own facts.”

What convinced me that her argument had validity came as a result of the story I have just shared with you. I have also witnessed the attempt to discredit the Mueller investigation using the same techniques described in Mayer’s book.

Adolf Hitler asserted in his book, “Mein Kampf,” tell big lies long and loudly enough and people will believe you. That seems to be the case with the Kochs and their allies.

The irony is that the Kochs’ deep desire is to have small or even no government. Yet, their libertarian approach threatens to enslave this nation and destroy our democracy, replacing it with an oligopoly of plutocrats. In doing so, they take away both our liberty and our wealth, leaving us enslaved by them and their allies.

Concern for the common good is buried by the greed, deception, secrecy and cunning of a few very rich people. It is individualism run amok.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@rentonreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.rentonreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Opinion

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
The police department of the future | Roegner

Based on comments from elected officials and police, the Black Lives Matter… Continue reading

Face masks save lives and jobs across Washington

Wearing a mask saves lives and saves jobs. And all across the… Continue reading

Cartoon by Frank Shiers
Editorial: Reopen schools in fall, but do it safely

Don’t bully schools into reopening. Protect our students.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Points of contention on police inquests in King County

Inquests frequently unfold against a backdrop of sadness and drama: Family members’… Continue reading

Cartoon by Frank Shiers
Editorial: Stopping COVID is now up to each of us

With a resurgence threatening, we need to take greater responsibility to keep the virus in check.

Armondo Pavone is the Mayor of Renton.
Renton needs a defined timetable for homeless shelter | Guest editorial

By Armondo Pavone and Ruth Pérez, Special to the Renton Reporter The… Continue reading

Doreen Davis, left in mask, waves at parade participants on May 2. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo
Wear your face-hugging, ever-loving mask | Editorial

“Don’t make me come down there.” — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo,… Continue reading

Valley police chiefs of King County release unified message in response to death of George Floyd

Police chiefs of Des Moines, Tukwila, Renton, Federal Way, Kent, Auburn, Algona, Pacific, Black Diamond and the Port of Seattle pledge to stand with communities.

Back to the wild — a whole new outdoor recreation world | Guest editorial

When enjoying the great outdoors, continue to socially distance and be aware of how else COVID-19 has changed our world.

KCLS is stepping up its commitment to patrons

KCLS has expanding its online resources so patrons can continue to learn, build skills, stay entertained and remain mentally and physically active amid the pandemic.

Ardra Arwin.
‘Let’s not go out and play!’

A poem by Renton resident Ardra Arwin, age 8

How using a face mask to cover my Asian face could put me in danger

Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, Asians and Asian Americans have been targeted.